Saturday, June 12, 2010

Boat Ride on the Grand Canal

We opted not to go sightseeing the next day because we wanted to make sure that we arrived at the cruise port terminal in plenty of time. There was a public boat stop right in front of our hotel, which I thought we could use to get to the cruise ship terminal. I asked the receptionist and she said the only way to get there would be to take a water taxi or hire a private boat. We didn’t like either of those options, so off we set again to haul our suitcases to the other side of the island to the public boat stop that we knew for sure would take us to the terminal. The experience was much like the previous day, although this time it was hotter, but we were at least mentally prepared for it. The winding streets proved to be a challenge once again and our route changed multiple times as we got lost and then figured out our new location. Finally, a waiter told us to throw out the map and pointed us in the correct direction. We made it there and boarded a boat that took us all the way down the Grand Canal, and wouldn’t you know it….right past our hotel! Ha, lovely. I was not too happy with the receptionist when we figured out we could have walked about 10 steps and been at a correct boat stop. Oh well, live and learn. The walk did let us see more of the city!
There are several boat lines, very similar to bus or subway lines in most cities. Tickets are available for a single trip or if you travel on the boat frequently, you can buy a pass for a few days or even a longer time period. A shorter trip like this is 6.50 Euros a passenger, while a trip to the airport is 14 Euros each. The boats are used frequently by citizens and tourists and I don't really think there is a passenger limit judging by how tightly people crammed on the boat, adding more at each stop! If you can get a place to stand by the railing, this is a great way to see the sights down the canal.

If you just want to cross from one side of the Grand Canal to the other and a bridge is not nearby (there are only a few bridges that actually cross the Grand Canal) you can take a traghetto.
It is an older gondola that is stripped of its "throne" and luxury trimmings. At only 50 cents a trip, this is by far the cheapest "gondola" ride that you can take in Venice! A private ride on an actual gondola will cost a minimum of 80 euro.
When you board the traghetto, passengers all face the same direction and remain standing in rows for the short trip across the canal. During the boat ride we went under the Ponte di Rialto, which is a 16th Century stone bridge that crosses the canal.

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